The best business advice, opinion, news and expertise in Greater Manchester and further afield.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Why Should I Export?

Clive Drinkwater, Regional Director of UKTI North West

This is one of the commonest questions I am asked when I'm out and about talking of the opportunities overseas in mature or emerging markets. I often answer “because you will increase your UK sales as well.” Why should this be so?

Well, I suppose I could have trotted out a battery of statistics about firms’ increasing their productivity by an average of 34% in the first year of exporting and that firms that export are 12% more likely to survive through difficult times. I could have emphasised the benefits of spreading your risk – if one market dips another can take up the slack; increased capacity utilisation, higher levels of growth, extending the commercial lifespan of your products are all important factors too. I could even mention that revenues are generally higher in export markets and you will dramatically improve your credibility by competing against the best the world has to offer. All powerful benefits and all facts based on an array of academic research on the subject.

If, however, I mention absorptive capacity, would it mean anything to you? In a nutshell, it’s the ability that a company has to adapt and change to different circumstances whatever they may be. Different styles or colour schemes in different markets, even simple voltage differences all need to be taken into account. Adapting to different cultures, ways of negotiating, having to use widely different market entry methods with different payment methods, often planning for different currencies are all things that exporters learn to take in their stride.

The best news of all is that you will use all these lessons in the UK market as well. Anybody who walks the streets of Manchester or London on a regular basis knows that it’s not just the accent that is different, the styles are different, the way of doing business is different; they could almost be in different countries. Firms that have learned how to adapt by dipping their toes into export markets will instinctively recognise this, will differentiate their product or service offer accordingly and see their home sales grow as well. To use a bit of a cliché, exporting is a win (overseas) win (at home) situation.

To read more of Clive’s blogs go

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